Pixel Scroll 10/15/16 Go Hang A Pixel, I’m A Lasagna Scroll.

(1) SPACE REMAINS THE FINAL FRONTIER. Howard Tayler is right – pass along the dream.

(2) A CENTURY OF CARL SLAUGHTER. Adding together all the interviews, book features, series features, author profiles, essays, and news items he’s written for File 770, today I published Carl’s 99th and 100th submissions. I’m grateful he’s been so generous with his talent here.

(3) AGENT SECRETS. Liana Brooks tells aspiring writers when is “The Best Time To Query”.

These are just the tidbits that everyone in the industry takes for granted and assumes everyone knows.

1 – Literary agents close for several months of the year so always check their websites to see if they are open to queries right now.

2 – Summer is con season and, on Fridays, the agents and editors leave work early. If your deadline falls on a Friday, make sure the manuscript gets in early.

3 – Between Thanksgiving (American) and Groundhog’s Day, publishing is slow and full of NO. Everyone wants to clear their desk for the new year and empty their inboxes so agents (and editors) are quicker to say no this time of year.

That means February is one of the best times to query. Everyone is back from their holidays. Everyone is over their “no booze” New Year’s Resolution. Everyone is excited about the coming spring and in the mood to say YES!

(4) ATWOOD DISAPPROVES DYLAN WIN. Margaret Atwood, in England to receive the PEN Pinter Prize, had this exchange with her Guardian interviewer:

On Thursday, just as I am saying goodbye to Margaret Atwood at the end of our interview, I get a text message. “Oh,” I say. “Bob Dylan’s won the Nobel prize.” She is about to have her photograph taken, and is arranging a rakish grey felt hat atop her steely curls. She looks at me, opens her mouth very slightly, and widens her eyes. They are the faintly unrealistic blue of a Patagonian glacier.

“For what?” she says, aspirating the word “what” with devastating effect.

If Atwood herself occasionally checks her phone for missed calls from Stockholm on such mornings, she does not admit to it; in any case, fellow Canadian Alice Munro’s victory in 2013, commemorated with a generous tribute by Atwood in this paper, will have queered that particular pitch for some years to come.

(5) BUT HOW DID THIS NOT PREVENT DYLAN FROM WINNING THE NOBEL PRIZE? Though it may be the reason it took so long.

(6) BOB WEINBERG MEMORIAL. Steven H Silver sent this report about the celebration of the late Robert Weinberg, who passed away September 25.

A memorial party was held for Bob Weinberg today at the Orland Park (IL) Civic Center from 12:00-4:30. There were about 70 people attending. Doug Ellis and others spoke about their relationship with Bob. Attached is a picture showing Phyllis and Alex Eisenstein, Tina Jens, Randy Broecker, and Richard Chwedyk. Images of Bob and his art collection were shown on a screen and some of Bob’s jigsaw puzzles were available for people to work on or take home.


(7) AVOIDING ANTISOCIAL MEDIA. Kevin Hearne is taking a break from Twitter and Facebook, however, he still recommends Instagram and imzy.

I am currently hiding from the icky people of the world. Many of them are on Twitter, so I’ve taken a Twitter break until after the election. Quite a few are also on Facebook so I’ve stopped hanging around there too: It’s like people are just waiting for you to show up so they can poot in your face. I’ve noticed that if I spend any time on either platform my mood turns sour like milk from four months ago, and I’d rather not let that negativity poison my days.

I am, however, still posting happy pictures on Instagram, if you’d like to follow me there: I’m @kevin_hearne. And I’m on imzy as well. If you’d like to follow me there & become part of that community, click on this link, ask for an invitation, and I’ll approve it quick as I can.

Both Instagram and imzy, I have found, are poot-free.

(8) ADD THESE TO MOUNT TBR. Open Culture has a list of five for us: “A Clockwork Orange Author Anthony Burgess Lists His Five Favorite Dystopian Novels: Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Island & More”.

Before John Stuart Mill coined the word “dystopia” in 1868, pessimistic post-Enlightenment thinker Jeremy Bentham created an earlier, perhaps even scarier, word, “cacotopia,” the “imagined seat of the worst government.” This was the term favored by Anthony Burgess, author of one of the most unsettling dystopian novels of the last century, A Clockwork Orange. Depicting a chaotic future England filled with extreme criminal violence and an unnerving government solution, the novel can be read as either, writes Ted Gioia, “a look into the morality of an individual, or as an inquiry into the morality of the State.” It seems to me that this dual focus marks a central feature of much successful dystopian fiction: despite its thoroughly grim and pessimistic nature, the best representatives of the genre present us with human characters who have some agency, however limited, and who can choose to revolt from the oppressive conditions (and usually fail in the attempt) or to fully acquiesce and remain complicit.

(9) STEAMING ALONG. Gail Carriger includes lots of photos with “Con Report ~ Fun at Gaslight Gathering in San Diego”.

I really wish this con were closer to me, I would go every year if I could. It was like meeting old friends for the first time (shout out to Madame Askew and The Grand Arbiter). Tea Dueling is my new favorite sport of all time and everyone should do it everywhere forever.

(10) RINGS. From NPR: “Spin To Survive: How ‘Saturn On Steroids’ Keeps From Self-Destructing”. The accompanying astronomical art is by Ron Miller.

In 2007, data showed that a young star about 400 light years away from our solar system was blinking. It was being covered, uncovered and covered again in what astronomers call a “series of complex eclipses.”

The eclipses told astronomers that something was orbiting the young star, and that the something was very large….

…In 2012, [Eric Mamajek] and colleagues published a paper announcing what they thought was causing what he calls “the weird eclipse.”

It was an enormous ring system swirling around a planet.

“This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s rings are today,” Mamajek said at the time….

(11) FRANCE IN 2023. The fans behind the Worldcon in France bid are holding an awareness meeting at Utopiales on October 29.

(12) THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE. Terry Bisson’s classic “Bears Discover Fire” is available as a free read at Lightspeed Magazine.

“What’s this I hear about bears discovering fire?” she said on Tuesday. “It’s true,” I told her as I combed her long white hair with the shell comb Wallace had brought her from Florida. Monday there had been a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, and Tuesday one on NBC or CBS Nightly News. People were seeing bears all over the state, and in Virginia as well. They had quit hibernating, and were apparently planning to spend the winter in the medians of the interstates. There have always been bears in the mountains of Virginia, but not here in western Kentucky, not for almost a hundred years. The last one was killed when Mother was a girl. The theory in the Courier-Journal was that they were following 1-65 down from the forests of Michigan and Canada, but one old man from Allen County (interviewed on nationwide TV) said that there had always been a few bears left back in the hills, and they had come out to join the others now that they had discovered fire.

“They don’t hibernate anymore,” I said. “They make a fire and keep it going all winter.”

“I declare,” Mother said. “What’ll they think of next!”

The nurse came to take her tobacco away, which is the signal for bedtime.

(13) PRE-ARRIVAL RAVES. Comedian Patton Oswalt (who is also a geek supreme) did a tweet storm that raved about the upcoming movie Arrival, based on Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life.”

Arrival comes to theaters on November 11.

(14) STOP THE PRESSES. While I was finishing the Scroll (or so I thought) Tom Becker posted this instant classic Dylanesque filk lyrics.

Scroll along the pixel tower
Filers kept the view
While all the SMOFs came and went
Techno-peasants, too
Outside, in the distance
An angry troll did growl
Two puppies were approaching
The wind began to howl

[Thanks to Rob Thornton. John King Tarpinian, Petréa Mitchell, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper. Hate to disillusion anyone, but I don’t know what this one means myself…]

Pixel Scroll 3/6/16 Life During Scrolltime

(1) MODERATE TO HEAVY PUPPIES. Standback contributes “A Moderate Conversation Re: Sad Puppies”.

So to some extent, this is a sufficient answer to Stephanie’s question. Why is there so much vitriol against the Puppies? Because we’re on the internet, where it doesn’t take a whole lot to escalate an argument over Best Brand of Pasta into virtual knifings…..

To start things off: I would say I understand the core Puppy complaints, and agree with many of them (to varying extents).

I definitely see a shift in the “focus” of the genre, even if I’d be hard-pressed to nail it down to a definition (not unreasonable, in a genre still best-defined as “what we point to when we say it”). The disproportionate influence of particular groups and fandoms has been raised and enthusiastically argued over in the past (e.g. [1] [2] [3]). And I think there’s been a lot of snubbing, condescension and ad-hominem attacks coming from non-Puppies. Which they often don’t notice, or consider justified. (Scott Alexander’s I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup springs to mind, as it so often does.)

I won’t go over the Puppy grievances one by one, but I think I can see where all of them are coming from.

(2) DAN SCHNEIDER VIDEO INTERVIEW #68. Steven H Silver says, “Yesterday, Terry Bisson and I were interviewed for a podcast about Alternate History. If you want to hear what I would sound like recording on an Edison cylinder, I imagine this is pretty much it.”

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman’s third episode of his Eating the Fantastic podcast is now live, with guest Bill Campbell.


Bill opened up about many things, including the genius of Samuel R. Delany, how Rosarium’s first book Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond gave birth to a new publishing company, the challenges of crowdfunding creative projects, why he was once blacklisted at a convention, and many other topics which I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I did.

Episode four, coming in two weeks, will feature writer Tom Doyle.

(4) REQUESTING MORE CONTENTS, FEWER TABLES. Black Gate continues its Hartwell tribute with “The Books of David G. Hartwell: Visions of Wonder and The Science Fiction Century”. I’m all in favor of paying tribute to Hartwell, I’d just like to see more in these posts than the reprinted tables of contents of his collections.

(5) NAMING CONVENTIONS. Michael J. Walsh observes what a well-Cultured sense of humor Elon Musk displayed in naming his ships.

By January 2016, a total of three ASDSs have been refitted. The first ASDS, named Just Read the Instructions (JRtI), was converted from a barge in late 2014 and was deployed in January 2015 during the CRS-5 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station in order to provide a landing platform for a test flight of the returning booster stage. It was used for two landing tests through April 2015, and by June 2015, was retired as an ASDS.[1] The second ASDS, named Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), was converted from a much-newer deck barge and became operational in June 2015 to support a landing test on the CRS-7 mission.

(6) CRADLE OF SF’S GOLDEN AGE. Robert A. Heinlein’s birthplace in Butler, MO has been listed for sale. The asking price is $97,500.

Geo Rule says “The Heinlein Society will gladly accept a six figure donation to purchase it and turn it into a museum, if you’re feeling generous as well. Well, maybe seven figure to turn it into a museum…”


Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein's birthplace.

Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein’s birthplace.

(7) STATHOPOULOS EXHIBITION. Rejects! The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a retrospective of portraits by famed Australian painter Nick Stathopoulos , runs March 28-April 15 at Project 504 Studio in St. Leonards (Sydney). Stathopoulos is a 10-time Ditmar Award winner, who also was a 1999 Hugo nominee in the Best Professional Artist category.

rejects stathopolous

(8) NANCY REAGAN OBIT. Former First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan died today, March 6, at the age of 95. Like her spouse, she had an acting career prior to living in the White House, which included a role in the genre movie Donovan’s Brain. The movie was based on a 1942 horror novel by Curt Siodmak who, showing what a small world it is, lived in those days not far from Robert A. Heinlein’s home on Laurel Canyon.


  • Born March 6, 1906 — Lou Costello. “Abbott and Costello Meet…  have to be some of the best monster movies,” says John King Tarpinian.
  • Born March 6, 1928 – William F. Nolan
William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

(10) ACE OF HORROR. SF Signal has “5-Time Bram Stoker Winner Jonathan Maberrry on His Prolific Career”

CARL SLAUGHTER: Which of your novels is being adapted by hollywood?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m fortunate to have several of my projects in development for film and television. My Joe Ledger thrillers are being developed by Lone Tree Entertainment and Vintage Picture Company as a possible series of movies, likely beginning with Extinction Machine, the 5th in the series. And my vampire apocalypse series, V-Wars, is headed to TV, with a brilliant script by former Dexter head writer, Tim Schlattmann. Several other properties, including Rot & Ruin, The Pine Deep Trilogy, and others, are being discussed.

CS: How long and how hard is the journey to the screen?

JM: Like most writers I’ve coasted the edges of the Hollywood experience for years. There are some frustrations, of course, but that’s part of the game. For example, back on 2007 I co-created a show for ABC-Disney called On the Slab, which was a horror-sci fi-fantasy news program. Disney paid us to develop it and write a series bible and sample script; and then there was a change of management in the department that purchased it. Suddenly the project was orphaned and therefore dead in the water. Another time producer Michael DeLuca (Blade, Magnolia) optioned the first Joe Ledger novel, Patient Zero, on behalf of Sony, who in turn took it to ABC, who hired Emmy Award-winning TV writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) to write a pilot. Then after we’d gone a long way toward seeing it launch they decided instead to focus on the reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which flubbed badly. That’s Hollywood. I don’t take this stuff personally, though. And I never lost my optimism.

(11) FRIENDSHIP CALCULUS. Adam-Troy Castro explains “How To Remain My Friend When You Really Hate My Friend”.

I guarantee you, if I am close to Friend X, I know that “Asshole” is part of his Venn Diagram. As it is part of mine. As it is part of yours. I have clearly already made my personal calculations and decided that his other aspects are more important. I may someday change my mind. But it is my mind to change, based on whatever passes between me and Friend X; possibly even depending on what I see Friend X do to Friend Y. But you, who have had a different experience with Friend X, and therefore a different reaction, cannot win this argument with me using words, no matter how eloquently you express everything you find objectionable about him. It is, however, very possible for you to lose it. You can become a bore. You can become a scold. You can just become the distasteful person who always feels obligated to piss on my pal; the guy who gives me the impression that nothing will satisfy him until I start pissing on my pal too. That makes YOU the shithead.

(12) VIRUS WITH A LIBRARY. Nature reports “CRISPR-like ‘immune’ system discovered in giant virus”.

Gigantic mimiviruses fend off invaders using defences similar to the CRISPR system deployed by bacteria and other microorganisms, French researchers report. They say that the discovery of a working immune system in a mimivirus bolsters their claim that the giant virus represents a new branch in the tree of life.

Mimiviruses are so large that they are visible under a light microscope. Around half a micrometre across, and first found infecting amoebae living in a water tower, they boast genomes that are larger than those of some bacteria. They are distantly related to viruses that include smallpox, but unlike most viruses, they have genes to make amino acids, DNA letters and complex proteins.

(13) TO BOLDLY BUILD WHAT NO MAN HAS BUILT BEFORE. Collider explains why “NASA Has Designed a Warp Ship Inspired by ‘Star Trek’s Enterprise”.

When does science-fiction become science fact? Throughout various mediums over the last few centuries, we’ve seen early versions of concepts that would eventually become a reality. Sometimes these portrayals are pretty far off base (still waiting on those flying cars), while other times they feel downright prescient. But in the case of Star Trek and one particular engineer at NASA, science-fiction actually informed science fact, with NASA engineer and physicist Harold White now actively working on a space ship that would allow travel faster than the speed of light—or, for the Star Trek inclined, warp speed.

White announced this idea a few years ago, with the concept seeking to allow travel faster than the speed of light by literally expanding space-time behind the object and contracting space-time in front of it. In reality, the object doesn’t “go fast,” but instead takes advantage of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to move between space-time.

If your head has yet to explode, sit tight—in concert with White, designer Mark Rademaker has now created a CGI design concept of the ship that would operate using this theory, which they have aptly named the IXS Enterprise. Per Rademaker in an interview with the Washington Post, the idea behind the concept art serves two purposes: to visualize their idea, and to inspire burgeoning young scientists

(14) PAGING HUGO NOMINEES. George R.R. Martin knows it’s “Nomination Time”. His short fiction recommendation is a needle in a small Venusian haystack.

Last year, however, these three categories were among those most impacted by Puppygate. The slates dominated all three, sweeping the board and shutting out all other work. In the novelette category, a disqualification allowed one non-Puppy nominee to squeeze onto the ballot, and that story ultimately won. In novella and short story, fans unhappy with the choices presented them voted No Award. Understandably, IMNSHO… still, it was not a happy ending. There was some wonderful and powerful work published in these categories in 2014, and it was a shame that none of it could be recognized. (I was proud and pleased to present Alfie Awards to Ursula Vernon for “Jackalope Wives” in short story, and to Patrick Rothfuss for “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” in novella… but we all know that an Alfie is not a Hugo, and in an ordinary year both Vernon and Rothfuss would surely have been contending for a rocket).

That’s last year, however. No amount of rehashing can change what happened. The important thing is to see that it does not happen again. And to that end, it behooves all of us to nominate the short stories, novelettes, and novellas that we enjoyed most last year… to share our thoughts with our friends… to shout our recommendations from the rooftops. Let’s make sure this year’s shortlists truly represent the best of what was published in 2015.

As to my own recommendations…

Ah, there I hit a problem. I am not making any recommendations in these categories. Problem is, I have a conflict of interest. As a writer I did not publish any original short fiction in 2015, true. As an editor, however… well, Gardner Dozois and I co-edited an anthology called OLD VENUS that came out last year, and in my (admittedly less than objective) view, that book contained several stories that are worthy of Hugo nominations, and one that is so bloody brilliant that I think it stands right up there with any story that ever won the Hugo.

I really can’t tell you which one it is, however. Or the names of the other stories in the book that I think worthy of consideration. Look, Gardner and I liked all the stories we included in OLD VENUS. If we hadn’t, we would not have purchased them (and we do reject stories for every one of our anthologies). But we’d be lying if we said we liked all of them equally. There are stories Gardner liked more than I did; there are stories I liked more than Gardner did; there are stories both of us loved, loved, loved. As editors, however, it would be unethical for us to say which were which in public. Just as parents need to maintain devoutly that they love all their children equally and have no favorites, it behooves the ethical editor to take a similar stance toward the stories they purchase and publish.

(15) GIVING KATE A HELPING PAW. Steve Davidson hated to let go to waste the effort he invested on a comment I deleted here the other day. It now has manifested as “Puppy See, Puppy Do-Do” at Amazing Stories.

Kate Paulk recently closed the comments (at the beginning of March) so that they could be compiled and a final list composed.

It’s a little late in the game, especially considering that nominators are kinda expected to read and be familiar with works they’re going to recommend (but that isn’t necessarily an impediment for organized voting), so we’ve decided to help them out a bit and give them a hand up.

We started with one of the most visible categories – Best Novel. The following list contains all of the individual works mentioned in the comments. We did not verify eligibility (although most, if not all of the works seems to meet that criteria). When judging whether or not someone recommended something, we took “Plus 1” and “Me Too” to count for a “vote”. If someone talked about a work but didn’t expressly indicate that it was something they were going to nominate, we didn’t count it.

If a “top ten” is going to be compiled, it’s pretty obvious from the counts below what we should see on the Sad Puppy IV Slate. It will be interesting to see how the final list compares.

(16) HAMMER EMCEE RAPPED. Marie Porter has some feedback for masquerade emcees, triggered by a recent bad example of the art.

I want to talk about Emcees for convention ?#?cosplay masquerades.

It feels like almost every masquerade we’ve competed in, judged, or watched – with maybe 1-2 exceptions – has had an emcee that behaves in a manner that I find disrespectful to the competitors.

As a general thing, it usually comes in the form of trying to be “entertaining”, and basically comes off like this emcee has an audience, that they are the STAR of the show, and the competitors are basically props to them. They feed off the laughs, which they try to obtain by any means necessary.

A lot of the time, it happens by cracking rude and unnecessary jokes while introducing the competitor, as the competitor leaves the stage, etc.

When it happens, it feels like the emcee has lost sight of what the show is actually about – showcasing the hard work of the competitors. It’s not the “emcee show”, no matter how much they would like to think it is.

Tonight, a few things happened that still have me mad, so let me describe it to demonstrate what I’m saying.

A friend of mine was competing in the beginner category, in a costume she SLAVED over – a Steampunk Lady Thor. I watched her build progress – she put a ton of work into it, and she had every reason to be proud of it.

As she was on stage – being judged, mind you – the emcee talked *over her provided audio* to say – and I quote

“She could hammer me any time”.

She looked horrified, and – quite frankly – like she wanted to murder the guy. Rightly so, IMHO. She basically had all of her hard work diminished into a sexual joke. It was degrading and objectifying, and had no place happening. SHE WAS COMPETING, during PERFORMANCE judging. Can you imagine being shocked by something like that, after all that work?

This is a Facebook link to video of the emcee’s “hammer” line. You can see it for yourself.

(17) UNLOOTED LOOT? Nile Magazine wonders if someone blabbed: “It is full of treasures… the discovery of the 21st century”.

Tantalising news about the ‘secret chamber’ in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

“We do not know if the burial chamber is Nefertiti or another woman, but it is full of treasures.” – Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou.

It seems that some secrets are too good to keep. Is this a phenomenal leak about what lays beyond the false wall in Tutankhamun’s tomb? Is it speculative wishful thinking? Or is this a clever boost for badly-needed tourism?

Mr. Zaazou claims that the announcement of what lays inside the secret chamber will be made in April. “It will be a ‘Big Bang’ – the discovery of the 21st century.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the news that has wafted out of Egypt via Spain in the past 24 hours. The Spanish national daily newspaper, ABC, claims that Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, who was in Spain a few weeks ago, confirmed that there is “treasure” in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

(18) OLD NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. Shortly after Ray Bradbury died in 2012, Jessica Allen wrote a retrospective for Maclean’s about the Bradbury stories Maclean’s had published, in “Here’s to you, Ray Bradbury”. Her article was adorned with photos of the title page art, including a notable typo in the credit for his contribution to Maclean’s September 15, 1948 edition.

Bradbury MacLeans the long years

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J., Walsh, Steven H Silver, Lis, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

Pixel Scroll 2/3/16 Superscrollapixelistbutextrabraggadocious

(1) THANKS FACEBOOK. Pat Cadigan joined the legions who have committed this social media gaffe — “Happy Birthday, Sorry You’re Dead”.

Well, it happened again…I wished someone a Happy Birthday on Facebook and then discovered they had passed away last year. This is what happens when you have an impossible number of Facebook friends, most of whom you don’t know personally….

Anyway, thinking or not, I have committed a birthday faux pas. And as usual, I feel awful about it. When the person’s loved ones saw that, they probably wanted to go upside my head. Because that’s how it is when you’re on the sharp end of a disaster, whether it’s something of epic proportions or the personal loss of a beloved friend or relative. Your life has changed forever, and yet the world goes on like nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Like, WTF? The stock exchange opens and closes. The sun rises and sets and rises again. People go to work, go home, go grocery shopping, go online, tweet, check Facebook––and they can’t even take a few extra minutes to find out if someone’s alive or dead? Seriously, WTF?

(2) THANKS TSA. James Artimus Owen shared a memo with his Facebook readers.

Dear TSA – I’m breaking up with you. It’s you, not me. Or anyone else you and American Airlines conned into this big threeway. We were awesome dates, going along with everything you asked for, giving you sweet, sweet lovin’, and lots of money, and always on time, and you didn’t care. You still just wanted me to get half undressed, and to feel me up, and poke me in my special place, and go through all my stuff – and then your drunk buddy American Airlines overbooked the flight…, and complained about carryons, and then broke their own damn plane while we were sitting here. And now someone is trying to “fix” things, but the air is off, and we have to sit here for another half an hour, and the paperwork is going to take longer than the repair. So, I just wanted you to know – I’m getting a private plane. With my own crew. And you can date my “people” but I’m not taking my belt and shoes off for you again just so you can lecture me about the difference between 3.5 ounces and 11 ounces.

(3) HOW DID SOME GOOD NEWS SLIP IN HERE? Hobart and William Smith Colleges (in New York’s Finger Lakes region) have announced that Jeff VanderMeer will join the Trias Residency for Writers for the 2016-17 academic year.

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer

Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the Nebula Award, and three-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, VanderMeer is the author of more than 20 books, including the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy (“Annihilation,” “Authority,” and “Acceptance”), released in 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The trilogy explores, among other issues, environmental degradation in extremis, creating, as the New York Times puts it, “an immersive and wonderfully realized world” with language that is “precise, metaphorical but rigorous, and as fertile as good loam.”

During the residency, VanderMeer will teach one class in the fall of 2016 and work with a number of select students the following spring. Additionally, he will offer a public reading and lecture, participate in a service event for the greater Geneva community and curate a reading series featuring Dexter Palmer (who writes sf), Ottessa Moshfegh and a third writer to-be-announced.

Beyond his work on campus, VanderMeer adds that he is looking forward to “a creative writing visit to the super max prison [in Auburn, N.Y.] and a possible partnership with the Colleges’ environmental center.” He has also invited artist John Jennings, a professor at University of Buffalo, to visit in the fall of 2016 “for some cross-media conversation about narrative and creativity.”

…The Peter Trias Residency at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is designed to give distinguished poets and fiction writers time to write. Academic expectations allow for sustained interaction with our best students while providing the freedom necessary to produce new work. Residents are active, working artists whose presence contributes to intellectual environment of the Colleges and the town of Geneva.

(4) MORE THAN MONEY. “Stephen King On What Hollywood Owes Authors When Their Books Become Films: Q&A” at Deadline.

DEADLINE: So rather than making the old deal, with big upfront money, you figure you’ll make your money on the other side?

KING: The other side of this, too, is that if you do that, you can say to these people, what I want is a share in whatever comes in, as a result, from dollar one. So it isn’t just a creative thing, it’s also the side where I say, if you want to do this, let me make it easy for you up front and if the thing is a success, the way that 1408 was a success for the Weinstein brothers, then we all share in it together. You know, of all the people that I’ve dealt with, Harvey and Bob Weinstein were the ones who were most understanding about that. They were perfectly willing to go along with that. A lot of people feel like you want to get in their business. I don’t want to do that at all. I want to be part of the solution. There were things about the 1408 screenplay that I thought were a little bit wonky actually, you know. There’s a part where you brought in the main character’s sad relationship about how his wife had died, she’d drowned, and he was kind of looking for an afterlife a la Houdini. I thought, well this seems a little off the subject. But it was great in the movie.

DEADLINE: So you’re not an author who feels that what’s in your book is sacrosanct, even when it’s translated to the screen?

KING: No. And the other thing is, you start from the belief that these people know their business. There are a lot of writers who are very, very sensitive to the idea, or they have somehow gotten the idea that movie people are full of sh*t. That’s not the truth. I’ve worked with an awful lot of movie people over the years that I think are very, very smart, very persistent and find ways to get things done. And I like that.

(5) TIL DADDY TAKES THE T-BIRD AWAY. From The Guardian: “Elon Musk personally cancels blogger’s Tesla order after ‘rude’ post”.

Unimaginable wealth has brought Elon Musk a lot of benefits, from being able to build a private spaceflight company to planning a magnet-powered vacuum tube supersonic transport system between LA and San Francisco – and be taken seriously. But perhaps the best perk of being Elon Musk is the ability to be unbelievably petty.

The Californian venture capitalist Stewart Alsop learned that to his cost, he says, after he wrote an open letter to Musk about the badly run launch event for the Tesla Motors Model X (the newest car from Musk’s electric vehicle startup).

Headlined “Dear @ElonMusk: you should be ashamed of yourself”, the letter listed Alsop’s issues with the event: it started late, it focused too much on safety, and it was so packed that even people like Alsop, who had placed a $5,000 deposit on the car (which was originally supposed to ship in 2013, but had only delivered 208 cars by the end of 2015), didn’t get the chance to test drive it.

Alsop concluded that “it would still be nice if you showed some class and apologised to the people who believe in this product”.

Instead, Alsop says, Musk cancelled his pre-order.

(6) HARTWELL OBIT IN NYT. Here is the link to David G. Hartwell’s obituary in the New York Times.

Mr. Hartwell worked at several publishing houses before starting as a consulting editor at Tor/Forge Books in the early 1980s. At his death, he was a senior editor there. He was nominated more than 40 times for Hugo Awards, among the most prominent prizes in science fiction, and won three times for editing.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor, said in an email that Mr. Hartwell had edited and published hundreds of books, including Mr. Dick’s novels “The Divine Invasion,” “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer” and “Radio Free Albemuth,” as well as novels in Mr. Herbert’s “Dune” saga and Gene Wolfe’s “The Book of the New Sun” series.

He also compiled dozens of anthologies, many with Ms. Cramer, including “The Space Opera Renaissance” (2006) and “Spirits of Christmas: Twenty Other-Worldly Tales” (1989), and he wrote “Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction” (1984).

Mr. Hartwell championed genre fiction long before crossover hits like the “Lord of the Rings” films, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” broadened its audience.

(7) BERKELEY AUTHOR APPEARANCE. Carter Scholz, author of Gypsy, Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Lucky Strike, and Terry Bisson, author of Fire on the Mountain, at Books Inc. in Berkeley, CA on February 18th.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

(8) DOLLENS ART REMEMBERED. Ron Miller’s post at io9 has a gallery of “Scenes from the 1950s Space Movie That No One Saw”.

Morris Scott Dollens is best known to aging SF fans as one of the most prolific space artists who ever lived.…

These three interests—-astronomy, photography and model-making—-led to an endeavor that that was especially close to his heart: The creation of a movie that would take audiences on a journey through the solar system.

It was to be called “Dream of the Stars,” and Dollens created dozens of meticulous models of space ships and alien landscapes. He assembled these into tabletop dioramas which were then photographed in the same way Hollywood special effects artists would create miniature effects scene. Dollens sent these photos to magazine and book publishers, who ran them with captions that declared that “Dream of the Stars . . .is said to be best space film yet.” I remember seeing these photos in books about space when I was a kid and desperately trying to track down this movie. It wasn’t until decades later, when I contacted Dollens while researching my book, “The Dream Machines,” that I finally learned the truth: that “Dream of the Stars” was just that: a dream.

(9) HAT TIP. The New York Post noticed a fan favorite is back — “’X-Files’ tips a (straw) hat to iconic ’70s TV character”.

The latest episode finds FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) interrogating a person of interest, Guy Mann (Rhys Darby), as they hunt for a reptilian “were-monster.” Mann’s quirky attire — straw hat, seersucker jacket and cheap knit tie — bears a striking resemblance to clothing worn by Carl Kolchak, the rumpled creature tracker played by the late Darren McGavin in the 1970s ABC series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

The homage to McGavin’s vampire- and werewolf-hunter is intentional.

(10) HINES ON REPRESENTATION. Suvudu interviewed “Jim C. Hines on Representation and the Seeds of Possibility”, and Jim made his case in a lucid and fair manner, as he always does. It’s not his fault that his examples play so well against the next item in today’s Scroll….

I don’t understand why this is such a heated topic, but people get quite distraught when you suggest our genre should be more inclusive. Just look at the attempted boycott of Star Wars for daring to cast a woman and a black man in lead roles, or the oceans of man-tears surrounding Mad Max: Fury Road and its competent and kick-ass protagonist Furiosa.

Imagine the backlash to a science fiction show in which the main starship crew—the captain, first officer, navigator, engineer, and doctor—are all women. The only male character is basically a switchboard operator.

(11) TIMING IS THE SECRET. Who knew Ghostbusters will be putting Jim’s example to the test? “Receptionist Chris Hemsworth is Here For You” at Tor.com.

Last night Paul Feig announced that the official Ghostbusters site is up and running, with the first trailer set to drop later this month. If you poke around on Ghostbusters.com (which also has pages for the original movies), you’ll find a new batch of images, featuring the ladies in civilian garb… and their adorable receptionist, played by Chris Hemsworth.

You know how there’s that silly TV/movies trope of putting glasses on a girl to make her less attractive? Yeah, that definitely doesn’t work here.

(12) CHATTACON REPORT. Ethan Mills of Examined Worlds writes about “The Importance of Community”.

Do we need Cons like ChattaCon today?  Aren’t SF fans all shut-in introverts who make snarky anonymous comments on blogs and YouTube videos?  Even if we do need communities, couldn’t we move the Con experience to the internet, where we’ve moved so much of our communal interactions in the 21st century? A ChattaCon Report While the internet is great (you’re reading it!), I think physical meetings are still an essential part of community.  To make my case, consider some of the things I did last weekend:

…One of the guests was Larry Correia (of the Sad Puppies).  I went to one of his panels with a few friends.  Given my opposition to the whole Sad Puppy fiasco, I was wondering what he’d be like in person.   Answer: not all that different than most author guests, although nobody asked him about the Puppies.

(13) SHOCKING. Max Florschutz at Unusual Things calls it “The Indie Scam”.

There are a lot of blogs, posts, and news articles out there decrying the pricing of the big publisher’s books. They make regular appearances on smaller author’s sites, reddit’s r/books, and very frequently in the circles of indie authors. “Publishers are making their books too expensive!” they cry. Look at the price of these books!

…Then came the bit I didn’t agree with. That everyone should flock (and was flocking) to ebooks and indie because the prices were so much better.

The problem is, this isn’t always true….

Let me tell you a story. About a year ago, I was attending a con and talking with a bunch of authors about ebook sales and indie publication. One man in the “group” we’d sort of formed in the hallway was a known trailblazer in the ebook world, one of the first authors to jump ship from his publisher and go straight indie, a decision that had been great for him. Naturally, he being the one with the most experience in success, everyone was letting a lot of questions and comments gravitate his way.

At some point, ebook pricing came up, and I mentioned I was trying to figure out a price for the draft I was about to finish. He shrugged and said it was simple, and asked me how long it was. 300,000-odd words, I said. Eyes wide, he shook his head, and then told me the best way to sell a book of such length:

Cut it up into 8 or 10 sections and sell them for $2-3 a pop.

This, readers, is what I’ve started to see as “The Indie Scam.”

You see, as already mentioned, a lot of indie authors will decry the cost of “big pubs” and their ilk. Like the classic meme, they repeat the line that the prices are “just too d**n high” while showing that their books are so much cheaper at their low, low prices.

But are they really? Well, in a lot of cases … no. And that’s the problem. It’s a misdirect. Because a lot of these indie books? They’re a lot smaller than what they’d have you believe.

(14) RABID PUPPIES TODAY. Vox Day’s picks for the Rabid Puppies slate in the Best Fan Writer category are Jeffro Johnson, Dave Freer, Morgan, Shamus Young, and Zenopus.

(15) KEEPING THE WARDROBE BUDGET DOWN. Den of Geek asks: “Saturn 3: the 1980s’ weirdest sci-fi movie?”

Saturn 3 wasn’t exactly the sci-fi blockbuster its makers might have hoped. Neither broad and upbeat like Star Wars nor as claustrophobic and disturbing as Alien, it instead became one of the great oddities of 80s science fiction. This is, after all, a movie which features such bizarre lines as “No taction contact!” and “That was an improper thought leakage.”

Then there’s the bizarre scene in which Kirk Douglas (nude, of course) chokes out Harvey Keitel after he utters the line, “You’re inadequate, Major. In EVERY department.”

Saturn 3’s by no means a classic, then, but it is undoubtedly one of the most weirdly fascinating sci-fi misfires of the 1980s.

(16) DON’T ORDER THE SOUP. Gizmodo touts a photo series created by Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong.

A lovely shepherdess in a flowing white dress tends to her flock in these gorgeous photographs reminiscent of a fairy tale. The twist: the shepherdess is underwater, and her charges are white-tipped reef sharks.

The image is part of the latest series from conservation photographer Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong, who has a bit of an adventurous streak, taking his models into the field for a bit of storm-chasing and to underwater shipwrecks—all in the name of capturing that perfect shot. This time, he took model Amber Bourke to Fiji, a hot spot for ecotourism specializing in shark dives.

But his focus isn’t on thrill-seeking or purely aesthetic pursuits; in this case, he wanted to draw attention to the plight of sharks worldwide. “Sharks are almost always depicted as menacing and terrifying, yet it is humans that are responsible for killing them in the millions just to make soup,” he wrote on his blog. “I wanted to create a series of images that would help break those stereotypes.”


[Thanks to James H. Burns, David K.M. Klaus, John King Tarpinian, Jeff VanderMeer, Susan Toker, Moshe Feder, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Stick.]

Rule Makers and Rule Breakers

Terry Bisson offers “60 Rules for Short SF (and Fantasy)” on the SFWA Blog. I’m of two minds about the list.

The writer in me recognizes golden nuggets here deserving hours of contemplation.

The fan in me, well, can hardly wait to search for stories that have gained immortality while breaking these very rules.

Since this is a fan blog, can you guess where we’re going next?

4. The more extraordinary the idea, the more ordinary the language. Experimental writing is for quotidian events. James Joyce and Virginia Woolf understood this.

“’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison, won the Hugo and the Nebula. With its pleonasm about jellybeans and an absurd litany of techniques devoted to hunting the Harlequin (“They used Raoul Mitgong, but he didn’t help much”) this story succeeds while ostentatiously violating several rules of writing. In fairness, paraphrasing the well-known line, if it was easy to do successfully, everybody would be doing it. Some of these rules probably exist to spare writers the frustration of trying unsuccessfully.

5. Keep your timeline simple. Flashbacks are out of place in a short story.

Famous exception: “All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein. I believe there are true flashbacks here, not merely the shuffled chronology that occurs in any time travel story.

6. Never write in present tense. It makes events less, not more, immediate. Past tense IS present tense.

Probably true, notwithstanding the famous first sentence of “Fondly Farenheit” by Alfred Bester which begins, “He doesn’t know which of us I am these days…” The line is so admired that it’s almost overlooked that the rest of the classic story, collected in Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1, is told in the past tense.

7. No dialect. Jargon is OK but only if doesn’t have to be explained.

Might have to go along with this one. However, I will mention that Poul Anderson wrote in a diction uniquely his own. On top of that, he frequently gave characters from backwaters of one or another empire a mild accent to emphasize the point, but it wasn’t really dialect. Not in the sense that Kipling wrote in dialect.  As a teenager I admired Poul Anderson’s style, tried to imitate it, and ruined myself as a writer ‘til I gave up the experiment.

I was also reminded of “The Mindworm” by Cyril Kornbluth. It’s not written in dialect, but the plot turns on the protagonist repeatedly hearing bits of another language that he fails to comprehend until it’s too late.

24. A short story should cover a day or two at most. A week is stretching it.

The point is well-taken, it is hard to do justice to a breadth of time and still keep a short story moving. Yet there must be lots of successful sf short stories that break this rule. For example, “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” by Roger Zelazny spans several months. This story is another SFWA members selected for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1.

35. No funny names, please.

Yes, it’s best not to hit sf readers over the head with Dickensian names like Scrooge, Pecksniff and Sweedlepipe.

And a writer can overdo those peculiar collections of syllables presented as names of alien characters – a good example is Aycharaych the Chereionite, a bad example is any name without vowels and the letter Q in the middle.

But what about actually hah-hah funny names? Satirical names? Like Larry Niven’s little in-joke on humanity, naming a Kzin diplomat “Speaker-to-Animals”? 

36. No magic carpets or Once Upon a Times. A fable is not a short story. A joke is not a short story.

“A joke is not a short story?” Perhaps a good piece of advice for many writers, but by no means a governing rule of the sf genre. Otherwise, how can we explain the immortal Ferdinand Feghoot?

I welcome anybody else who wants to play to consult Bisson’s list and point to stories that successfully (famously?) violate them.